Mitsubishi PK20 LED, Palm-Sized. Portable, Pocket Projector Review - Overview
06/6/2007 - Art Feierman
I've been seeing these tiny LED projectors at trade shows for probably close to two years now, and mostly my attitude has been "cute" but too dim to be useful. None-the-less, they have been getting a bit brighter, and I have received emails asking about them, so I turned to Mitsubishi, and asked about a review unit of their 2nd generation PK20. The Mitsubishi PK20 (link to specs) claims a "massive" 25 lumens, a spec that can only make me chuckle, as the first portable projectors (sub 20 pounds) back in 1994, even then, were 110 lumens. Today's typical LCD and DLP entry level projectors are all over 1000 lumens. So, what, I thought, can anyone do with 25 lumens.
It truly surprised me, but, it turns out that the PK20 is actually bright enough for a lot of things, as you will see in the various photographs in this review. I had hoped to check out the PK20 with the optional battery pack, but, alas, the review unit came without one.
What it's not, is a serious projector for getting up in front of 20 or 100 people for a presentation. That said, it definitely has enough horsepower for a presentation in front of a couple or three people, with some lights on, probably best at 40" diagonal, although with lights very low, 60" is doable. And it is fun as a game player's projector, hooked up to an Xbox, Wii or PlayStation... and shining it on a wall or screen. And, since I go camping in the Grand Canyon every year, I'm going to try what someone suggested - shining it on a wall of my tent, or on a sheet, at night - what for, I'm not sure (but maybe a movie played off my laptop, or maybe a music video (I take a good portable iPod compatible sound system with me.)
But enough rambling. Just one more thing. Despite all my misgivings before I started working with the PK20, I am most impressed. While I decided that it really wasn't appropriate to give it our Hot Product Award, (hey, there are more expensive 2 pound projetors with 40 times the brightness) it is perfect for our far less frequently issued Special Interest Award. So, here it is: Mitsubishi's PK20, in all of its palm sized, 1.1 pound glory.
Mitsubishi PK20 LED Projector: Basic Specs
For more complete projector specs click: Mitsubishi PK20.
Selling Price: $499
Technology: Single chip DLP, LED light source
Native Resolution: SVGA 800x600 (supports XGA- 1024x768 compressed)
Brightness: 25 lumens
Zoom Lens ratio: Fixed lens - no zoom
Lens shift: None
Lamp life: 8 LED's rated 10,000 hours
Weight: 1.1 lbs.
Warranty: 1 year parts and labor
Optional Battery Pack: Up to two hours per charge
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Mitsubishi PK20 LED Palm Projector: Physical Tour
Facing the front of the PK20 projector, the small lens (no zoom feature) is recessed on the right side of the projector. On the left side of the front is a grill for the fan exhaust. The PK20 will fill a 50 inch diagonal screen from a distance of 5 feet, 6 inches. (From those numbers you can calculate the distance for any screen size... The PK20 has (like most projectors) some fixed lens shift built in. When you set it up and point it at a screen straight in front of it, some of the image will be below the lens level, but most will be above (assuming you do not adjust the front foot). For that same 50 inch(4:3 aspect ratio) screen, of the 30 inches of image height, 8.1 will be below the lens height and 21.9 above (assuming you don't tilt the projector. OK, that covers everything on the front of this little Mitsubishi projector.
On the bottom of the PK20 are 3 small rubber feet. One is centered below the front, and two more at the back, on the left and right. The front foot is screw thread adjustable to adjust the angle of the image. In addition, the bottom has three recessed cutouts for the optional battery back. The tripod feature was very nice. To use with a tripod, all you have to do, is completely unscrew the front foot so it comes off, take the black tripod adapter, put it's metal tab in the back slot, and put the front foot back on, through the hole in the adapter. (the whole thing is about a 30 second operation). Note: that adapter came in very handy. By setting the PK20 up on the tripod, it worked great on the screen in my testing room. Since I was primarily projecting relatively small images it allowed me to put the projector where normally there is no table top, and then projector the image on the screen.
Moving to the top of the PK20 (and looking at it from the rear), there is a recessed focus control just behind the lens. To the right of that, are three LED indicator lights - one for lamp, one for power, and a charge indicator for the optional battery.
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In the middle of the top, in a cosmetic ring, are the four arrow keys, for navigating. The Up arrow doubles for Auto Position (when not in the Menu mode), the Left arrow selects the Computer Source, and the Right arrow, the Video source. Further to the back, are three silver buttons, left to right; Menu, Power, and Enter. Everything you need to navigate your menus is there. Menus will be covered in the General Performance section of this projector's review.
The back of the PK20, also has venting, plus the Infra-red sensor for the small remote, a Kennsington lock slot, and a tiny rear facing speaker (0.2 watts). Of course, don't expect too much sound wise from such a small projector. The speaker's sound is along the lines of what you expect from an average laptop (not one of the fancier multi-media laptops with better than average sound.
That takes us to the input panel, which, when nothing is connected, is hidden on the left side (when looking from the front). The door swings open to reveal an impressive set of inputs for a projector this tiny. There are standard S-video and composite video inputs, a standard (analog) computer input (the usual HD15 connector), which can accept component video sources or computer, and two stereo mini jacks, one for audio input, and one for audio out. Considering the limited sound output of the PK20, the audio out is a very nice touch. feed the audio from the projector to a portable powered speaker system (like almost any designed for the iPod), and you can get much bigger sound, and also control the sound volume from the PK20's remote control.
That's not all that's found there. There is a small receptical for power, and "ta-ta-daa" - an SD card slot. Cool. I was able to pop an SD card out of one of my digital cameras, into its standard size SD-card adapter, and slide it into the projector, to view the images. It works!
Since I mentioned the power receptacle, the PK20 uses a small powerbrick, like those for your laptop, but smaller and lighter.
The case is finished in a matte silver, with the front and rear panels in flat black. Strangely, every time I look at the PK20, is looks like a scaled down model of a "real" projector. I almost expect it to be one of those rubber squeeze "toys" for reducing your stress. But, that's not the case. In reality the PK20 has a very sold feel to it.
So, what we have here is truly a minature projector, tiny in size, and weight, and also in brightness, but as I have learned, there are lots of practical uses for it.